So as it turns out, we get the question quite a bit about something that you may get surprised with.  That would be: “Where did PPC really start?”  Well, when I thought about it, I didn’t actually know for sure the best answer to that question, only a few points.  So we dug in the history books and came up with the History of PPC with, and how everything went from there on out, to evolve to the PPC world we now know.

Before getting started on the timeline, we better make sure we are all on the same page as far as what PPC actually is!  PPC or Search Engine Marketing is basically a process of gaining traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. Basically, the three biggest network operators now are Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and Microsoft Ad Center.  Obviously, Google owns much of the market.  With that established, let’s explore how this all came about!

-1997: launches. was founded by ideaslabs.

Basically, was an Idealab Spin Off, and was the first kid on the block to provide Pay-for-Placement Search Service.

-February 21, 1998 presents a proof of concept testing at TED8.

In addition to this, GoTo also offered advertisers an option to bid on how much they were willing to pay to appear at the top of search results to specific searches.  Does this sound familiar?  Basically, the bid amount would be paid by the advertiser (again, familiar?) every time a user clicked the link to the website.  The pricing then went up to around a dollar per click.

June 15, 1998: announces backfill deal with Inktomi.

Ok, so now we are getting into big time breakthrough stuff with Inktomi and GoTo.  Basically, it started filling its paid listing (or backfilling) with search results from Inktomi.  Basically, this made it easier to be branded a search engine, because it basically was.  This was a big milestone for them on the searcher front, because of the marketability now.

June 1 1999: launches toolset to let advertisers take control.

Ok, so now we have a self-serving system, that has a toolset to let advertisers access keywords.  Also, they had access to real time bidding.  This would sound like direct traffic center to all of us now.

June 1999: goes public.

Ok, do I need to expound further? In less than two years, they go public.  This beats quite a few of the big boys by quite a bit.

Oct.8, 2001: changes its name to Overture Services.

There were a couple of re-branding in the future for this company, and this would prove to be the first one. Overture Services would be the new future of this company, at the time.  We all know how it can be a bit of a tricky situation to re-brand a company, especially one that was so carefully grown to avoid having any bad branding in the first place, and avoid a bad reputation.

November 20, 2001: Overture teams up with

Ok, so now we have gone public, and things are REALLY starting to get cooking. The big deal is now in the cooker as Yahoo started featuring the Paid Listings that were provided by Overture on the Yahoo Search Results.  This was now the bread and butter for the company.  It was not going to be competing with Yahoo, Google, Webcrawler, etc, so why not partner up with them and get all the visibility to the ads that way?  That was the biggest part to creating profit by monetizing search results.  Now we can see where this is going, yes?

March 2003: Overture buys AllTheWeb.

Well, I suppose the boys over at Overture got greedy; they took a giant step towards owning its own search technology, by acquiring Alltheweb.

April 28, 2003: Overture completes purchase of Alta Vista for $106 million in stock and cash.

Do you guys remember Alta Vista?  It used to be big time in the Search Engine World.  Back in my heyday in high school, that was the cool thing to use.  Wasn’t quite Google yet for us.  Basically, Overture bought ‘em out and started using all the technology in its results.  I am not perfectly familiar on how they implemented this, but if they were willing to spend $106 MILLION, I am quite sure it was worth it, and put to good use.

Oct. 7, 2003: Yahoo completes purchase of Overture for $2.2 billion in stock and cash

Well, now we are in the “where dreams become reality” part of this story.  Yahoo bought ‘em out.  They were a big part of Yahoo, but were also very dependent on Yahoo for the revenue they had.  No search engine, no exposure, right?  Basically, this because the first portal to own 4 engines.  Remember Inktomi, Fast, Alltheweb, and Overture. Sounds like a win-win right?

April 18, 2005: Overture Services changes name to Yahoo Search Marketing.

This is number-two re-branding for the company.  Yahoo is not a bad one to rebrand to.  I would guess they changed the name in order to keep everything branded as Yahoo.

September 10, 2012:  adCenter was re-named as Bing Ads, while the Search Alliance was re-named the Yahoo! Bing Network. started out as a simple idea, and now they are a big part of the Microsoft system!  We have all seen movies like the social network, and we all hear about the guys behind Twitter, Groupon, etc, but this is one that we have not heard about nearly as much.

Hope that answers everybody’s question!!!


John Rampton is a PPC Entrepreneur, Author, Founder at Due a finance company helping small business owners. Follow me on Twitter @johnrampton

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